Turkey started deporting foreign IS fighters to their home countries, The Guardian first reported on Monday.
The first deportation was of a US citizen. A German and a Dane were to follow later on Monday. According to the Turkish Interior Ministry, Turkey will extradite 21 EU nationals, including seven Germans, eleven French, and two Irish until November 14.
The complete number of EU citizens under Turkish custody is unknown and also includes women children. There are at least 1,300 foreign Jihadis in Turkish prisons, of whom an unknown number of Europeans.
Last week, Interior Minister, Suleyman Soylu, warned that Turkey will not be a “hotel for IS members from any country.” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday that there are 1,201 Islamic State prisoners in Turkish prisons, while an additional 287 militants were detained in Syria.
Syrian Kurdish forces are said to hold 11,000 IS fighters, including thousands of women and children who are family members of foreign fighters. About 20% of the total is believed to be European.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas asked Turkey to provide information for legal action against the returnees before their deportation. Over ten German citizens will be deported this week, according to the German public broadcaster DW.
On Monday Italy sentenced an Italian woman to two years and eight months in jail for association with ISIS. Lara Bombonati converted to Islam and married an Italian fighter, Francesco Cascio. She was arrested in Turkey in June 2017 and extradited to Italy.
Britain has stripped IS fighters of their citizenship to prevent their repatriation. Australia has also passed legislation preventing fighters from returning. France and the Netherlands have moved to return children but are trying to limit the possibility of return for their guardians.
The Dutch government must ‘make all possible efforts’ to repatriate 56 Dutch children in refugee camps in Northern Syria but is not required to bring back their mothers, a court in The Hague ruled on Monday.
The courtroom was packed with families of the 23 women, held by Kurdish forces. A lawyer for their families, André Seebregts, says he expects more clarity on how the judgment will be implemented but he cast doubt on the idea of sending the children to the Netherlands without their mothers.